Giving The Detroit Tigers Starting Rotation A Closer Look


The Detroit Tigers made a few big moves the last few weeks. They traded for Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon to add depth to both their outfield and their starting rotation.

The outfield got its necessary boost. Even skeptics and critics of the Cespedes deal have to admit that the outfield is in a better situation than before the Winter Meetings. A mix of Cespedes, J.D. Martinez, and a platoon of Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose in center will contribute more than whatever they had planned before the Winter Meetings.

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That brings us back to the starting rotation. Before trading for Shane Greene the Tigers needed to look for starting pitching depth. Fortunately for the Tigers the Greene acquisition added a ton of flexibility to the Detroit Tigers. Just like the article possibly mentioned the Tigers made such a move dealing Rick Porcello for Cespedes. Now the Tigers are back to square one in terms of starting pitching depth.

Simon replacing Porcello is a significant downgrade in the rotation. Don’t be fooled by his All-Star status in 2014. After starting the 1st half of the season with a 2.70 ERA he finished with a disappointing 4.52 ERA the rest of the season.

Aug 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon (31) delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If the Tigers are going to plug in Simon to replace Porcello the rotation will be significantly weaker. Make no mistake about that.

Though fans may be closing the door on Max Scherzer as he has reportedly asked for over $200 million reported by Jon Morosi, there is still a glimmer of hope for Scherzer fans for him to return on the Tigers.

As touched up on during my initial reaction to both trades, Simon has the ability to pitch out of the bullpen. His 2.78 ERA in 148.2 IP from 2012-2013 looks fabulous in that oft-criticized Detroit Tigers bullpen.

If GM Dave Dombrowski signs another starter (hint: Scherzer or potentially James Shields) Simon can be easily slotted into the bullpen.

Though the Tigers do not have the greatest starting rotation depth they have tons of different options they can plug in. They have pitchers waiting down in the Minor Leagues in the likes of Drew VerHagen or Kyle Lobstein or some other youngster. They’ll be needed if injuries or ineffectiveness plagues the current starting staff.

This depth in the minors will be vital as the Tigers still have plenty of question marks regarding their current staff.

Aug 1, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Is Justin Verlander going to be able to become the Verlander of old and bounce back from his disappointing 2014 season? Can Anibal Sanchez stay healthy and on the mound all year? Will Shane Greene be able to duplicate his 2014 success and become a viable 4th starter for this Tigers team?

As of now the Tigers ace seems to be David Price and that’s well-deserved. Except he’s gone after the 2015 MLB season. Simon will be too though that’s probably a good thing.

During the Tigers’ reign of terror in the AL Central they’ve relied on a strong and reliable starting rotation in order to win their games. With the bullpen in its current unreliable condition it’s even more vital for the starters to pitch deeper into games. That once solidified and graceful strength seems to have taken a blow once injuries and contract situations have taken their toll.

Except the off-season is still young. It’s mid-December and you never know what’s going to happen with a GM like Dombrowski and a free-spending owner like Mike Illitch. Just like the Prince Fielder signing a few years back the Tigers may make another big splash out of the blue. The starting rotation isn’t the Tigers’ biggest problem (that goes to the bullpen) but it may still need to be addressed.

Now, your thoughts. How do you feel about this new Tigers rotation? Hate it? Love it? Meh? Or do you think that they should go and add another cheap arm to their rotation? Whatever the case, the off-season has just begun and Dombrowski may not be done just yet.